Imagine Golf Blogs

Focus On Phil Mickelson

A look at Lefty's career

Posted Oct 28, 2011 by Chris White

Mickelson in action for the USA in the Ryder Cup

With 39 PGA Tour victories and four major championships under his belt, there isn’t too much that Phil Mickelson hasn’t achieved in golf, although the world number one ranking has always eluded ‘Lefty.’

Born in San Diego, Philip Alfred Mickelson started playing golf at a young age, mirroring his father’s right-handed swing, which is why the otherwise right-handed Mickelson became a left-handed golfer. He went to Arizona State University on a golf scholarship, becoming the face of amateur golf after winning three NCAA Championships and three Haskins Awards between 1990 and 1992 as the best collegiate golfer prior to his graduation.

He became the first left-hander to win the US Amateur title, doing so in 1990, the year before winning his first PGA Tour event, at the Northern Telecom Open as an amateur.

He turned professional in 1992 and was exempt from the Tour qualifying school because of his Northern Telecom victory, earning a two-year exemption. He won several events, including the Byron Nelson Golf Classic and World Series of Golf in 1996 and the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in 1998, before his best major performance of his fledgling career, at the 1999 US Open, finishing second.

The first major victory did come soon after, however, at the 2004 Masters, defeating Ernie Els with a birdie on the final hole, becoming the third left-handed player to win a major. He repeated that feat at the 2005 PGA Championship, winning a rain-affected competition by one shot with a 4-under par 276.

The 2006 Masters title followed soon after, winning by two strokes for his second green jacket, propelling him up to second in the world rankings behind Tiger Woods. In May 2007, Mickelson came from a stroke back on the final round to win the Players Championship with an 11-under par 277.

In 2009, his career came to an abrupt halt with the news that his wife Amy had been diagnosed with breast cancer. The rest of the PGA Tour field paid tribute to Mickelson and his family by arranging a “Pink Out” in which all the players wore pink to show their support.

Mickelson returned to the Tour after Amy was given the all clear, but was forced away again soon after when his mother was also diagnosed with breast cancer.

Upon his return to action, he won the Tour Championship, beating Woods by three strokes thanks to a final round 65, finishing second behind Tiger in the 2009 FedEx Cup standings. He then went on to win the WGC-HSBC Champions event by one shot over Ernie Els in Shanghai.

Mickelson won his fourth major and third Masters title in 2010 with a 16-under par performance, sealing a three-shot victory over Lee Westwood, overcoming a five-stroke deficit in the process.

He has won just the one event in 2011, at the Shell Houston Open, finishing three shots clear on 20-under par, clear of Chris Kerk and Scott Verplank.

What is the one Phil Mickelson moment that sticks in your mind? Let us know here, on Twitter @ImagineGolfClub and on Facebook by clicking here.

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